This new clinic is another milestone in the development of specialized and integrated care for older adults to promote healthy ageing
Doha, 18 February 2023: As part of its strategic plan to develop enhanced healthcare programs and services for older adults in Qatar, the Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has established the first Sarcopenia Clinic in Rumailah Hospital.
Sarcopenia is a muscle disease that describes the age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass and physical function. While all people begin to lose some muscle mass after the age of 40, this process is accelerated as people get older, particularly if ill-health and lifestyle practices affect their physical fitness. Experts around the world have agreed that Sarcopenia is a strong predictor of many adverse health outcomes, such as frailty, falls and fractures and mortality.
Dr. Hanadi Al Hamad, Medical Director of Rumailah Hospital, and the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (where she is also the Acting CEO) and Chairperson of the Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care, said that early screening and treatment of sarcopenia is hugely important in helping older patients regain strength and improve their quality of life.
“Sarcopenia is often associated with increased risk for disability in older adults, that can lead to more hospitalization and loss of independence. The good thing is that Sarcopenia can be treated, and with the right treatment plan, patient can improve their condition, allowing them to regain muscle strength, balance, and fitness. This is what we aim to achieve with our Sarcopenia Clinic – the first of its kind in the region – to diagnose and treat the individual and accompany them on their personal recovery journey,” said Dr. Al-Hamad.
This unique clinic is part of the vision of Dr. Al-Hamad, who, as the Qatar National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Ageing, is committed to developing systems and programs of care designed to support people as they age to live better.
“The establishment of this clinic has been part of a year-long research effort to assess the best practices from around the world and develop a robust program that will enable us to implement tried and tested screening tools and offer appropriate treatment options tailored to each patient’s needs. In the first phase we are mainly taking referrals through our Geriatric Department and physicians across HMC that recommend their patient to our clinic. As we expand our services, we will work closely with other healthcare providers, particularly our Primary Health Care colleagues, to ensure that potential Sarcopenia patients are referred for assessment and care as quickly as possible,” added Dr. Al-Hamad.
Sarcopenia and frailty are highly prevalent conditions in older hospitalized patients and is associated with longer hospital stays, higher healthcare costs, greater risk of hospital readmission and mortality. Sarcopenia is common among adults of older age but can also occur earlier in life, especially in patients with mobility issues and who may be bedridden for longer periods.
Dr. Irfan Muneeb, Consultant Physician and Geriatrician at HMC and the clinical lead for the Sarcopenia Clinic explained the importance of the multidisciplinary team to support a holistic approach to care: “When a patient is referred to us, we allocate over two hours for the initial assessment. A diagnosis of Sarcopenia is made based on a range of internationally recognized tests that assess a person’s muscle mass, muscle strength and physical performance. Once a diagnosis has been made, the treatment includes expert physiotherapists and nutritionists to ensure a comprehensive approach to helping the patient build their strength.”
“We are very fortunate that the Department of Geriatrics and Long-Term Care has this group of highly dedicated and well-trained physicians, nurses and allied health professionals who are working together to provide this service to older adults,” added Dr. Muneeb.
The Sarcopenia clinic saw its first patent in January 2023, who is now being managed by the clinical team. To find out more about the Sarcopenia Clinic and get an assessment, ask your doctor about a referral.